Whenever a Hollywood blockbuster has its premiere at London’s Odeon Leicester Square cinema, the stops are pulled out to ensure that the crowds who turn up to see the stars get an excellent show.
Spiderman 3 is alleged to be the most expensive film ever made, with a plethora of jaw-dropping visual effects. Its UK premiere, held in April, saw one of the most ambitious visual accompaniments ever staged in the Square: a vast Lighthouse Technologies LED screen system erected outside the cinema to give the invited guests and assembled star spotters a taste of what was to come.
Supplied by Hampshire-based rental company LED Screen Hire, a massive 153m2 of Lighthouse R16 screen was arranged in a pattern of seven screen “blocks” totaling 199 panels—one six panels wide by four high (6.09m x 3.04m), one four by eight (4.06m x 6.09), one three by nine (3.04m x 6.85m), two four by four (4.06m x 3.04m) and two six by five (6.09m x 3.81m).
Devised by AD Events, the screens were arranged in an uneven pattern designed to resemble the Manhattan skyline and evoking the feeling of being inside the movie. Forming an impressive frontage to the cinema, the huge array of R16 screen snaking around the building’s façade literally dwarfed the entrance.
This complex system required a counter-balanced ground support for the screen to be flown. Provided by Utopium Lighting, it comprised 70 tons of pre-cast engineered ballast that bolted securely into the ground support and acted as anchors for the necessary bracing. This was erected the day before the screen was installed, with the screen itself hung and ready for use in less than 12 hours.
Another unique aspect of the system was Pandora’s Box, a revolutionary media server supplied and operated by Show Support. This new and versatile piece of equipment allowed content to cross the boundaries of each screen “block” of R16, creating one seamless screen through which Spiderman could fly. Processing was via three Lighthouse LIP-KX units. The ability of Pandora’s Box to layer of video/graphics—up to a total of 24 layers—and to treat each of the seven screens either individually or as one, provide astounding versatility, and place live interviews with the arriving guests within a defined window in the content.
AD Events founder Amanda Davis says, "We set about designing an environment that would interact with the crowd as they walked around the gardens, creating a roller coaster ride. When I first saw the concept art for the movie, I was so impressed that I wanted to bring it to life using screens and for the screens to act as buildings as well as to show montages of Spiderman 3 graphics. The challenge was to make the design work within the Square and for it to accommodate all the TV and media crews, whilst giving the public a brilliant show."
LED Screen Hire’s inventory of Lighthouse R16 screen currently comprises 136 panels. “The primary reason we opted for R16 is that it gives us more opportunities for cross rental jobs,” says LED Screen Hire’s technical and operations manager, Mark Gent. “It’s one of the newest 16mm LED products; it’s reliable, easy to use, and reasonably lightweight. It’s a good all round product because of its modular construction—allowing it to be used for large or small format applications, without too much reduction in resolution in smaller the configurations.”
Simon Taylor, Lighthouse sales manager for Northern Europe adds, “Lighthouse R16 panels are proving a best seller in Europe, especially for this type of complex rental application,” “Its use on such high profile events underlines the astuteness our customers who continue to commit.”